COVID-19 Vehicle Decontamination

While “stay at home” is the operative instruction for all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, many fleet drivers must risk using their vehicles as an “essential” service or for other urgent needs. Fortunately, there are steps they can take to reduce the risk of a contagion by always remembering to take a few preventive steps.

Here are five simple steps that should be part of a driver safety fleet policy:

The driver should use an alcohol-based wipe, first, to wipe their hands, then to wipe the keys.

Drivers should conduct a pre-start check that includes hygiene management. They start with a fresh wipe and apply to all door handles and areas on the door they or a passenger may touch.

Drivers then sit in the driver’s seat, grab a fresh wipe and proceed to wipe any surfaces that they may touch or otherwise contact.

Drivers should wipe the edges of the rear-view mirror and then adjust for driving

When leaving the car, the driver should remove and dispose of used wipes. Finally, the driver should wipe the keys down.

Alcohol Wipes/Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers

The most effective weapon against the coronavirus, according to the CDC, is alcohol. Most other chemicals are either too harsh for a car’s interior surface or too toxic to use inside a car’s cabin or both. The CDC specifies concentrations of 70% or higher and ethanol should be 60% or higher. Although hand sanitizers, such as Purelle, have the proper alcohol concentration, they contain glycerin and other ingredients harmful to touchscreens.

Due to the shortage of sanitizing wipes, you can easily make your own hand sanitizer or sanitizer-infused wipes. Mix together 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent); a 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel (NOT for use on vehicle hard plastic surfaces, including touchscreens); and 10 drops of essential oil or lemon juice.

Applying a disinfectant for 30 seconds is the recommended to disinfect a surface; however, leather, porous vinyl, clear plastics, small painted icons on controls, etc., should not be oversaturated or scrubbed to avoid damage. For leather, use a leather conditioner to counteract the disinfectant.

The types of wipes is an important consideration, too. Avoid paper towels, facial tissue or other paper products for cleaning screens, plastics and other interior surfaces. They can leave scratches. Instead, use 100% cotton.

Alcohol-Based Wipes

Benzalkonium chloride Antibacterial Wipes kill 99.99% of germs, but the coronavirus isn’t a germ. As a result, the CDC indicates that benzalkonium chloride isn’t as effective as alcohol.

Regardless of the method you choose to disinfect a vehicle, drivers should consider wearing gloves. Nitrile, latex, or vinyl gloves provide an added layer of protection.

Click here to visit CEI COVID-19 Resource Center